Salvation Army "hangs out" with a new generation

February 25, 2014

The Salvation Army is one of the oldest and most recognizable charitable organizations in the country. For years, The Richards Group has created compelling Salvation Army advertising campaigns, helping them “Do the Most Good” for communities around the country. Looking to the future, The Salvation Army knows their success lies in the hands of one group in particular – Generation Z.

To help engage a younger generation and expand their donor pipeline, The Salvation Army tasked Richards Partners with exploring new platforms. Specifically, the organization wanted to evolve their most critical and recognizable fundraising period: the Red Kettle Campaign during the winter holiday season. We needed to bring a campaign rooted in offline fundraising to a generation that is constantly connected online.

Enter Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts is a video-chatting program that allows users to have face-to-face conversations via webcam, share screens, take pictures and even try on fun virtual hats and change backgrounds. From cell phones to tablets to personal computers, video conferences have become second nature to Generation Z. Richards Partners took this familiar tool and connected it with The Salvation Army by facilitating two Google Hangouts with two of the organizations’ young celebrity supporters, Selena Gomez and Austin Mahone.   

To pick the participants, each artist hosted their own virtual kettle through From there, fans could join their Online Red Kettle teams, entering them into the contest. Once the participants were chosen, Richards Partners worked with Google to screen and prep each winner to ensure a flawless user experience. 

Each Hangout went off without a hitch. Selena chatted with her Hangout winners the day before her Thanksgiving Day halftime performance during the Dallas Cowboys game. Austin chatted with his Hangout winners a few hours before performing at the fourth annual Rock the Red Kettle Concert. Each artist started their Hangout by thanking the winners for supporting The Salvation Army and reminding fans how important it is to help those less fortunate. From there, winners asked their burning questions – everything from the lighthearted “Where do you keep all of the gifts your fans give you?” to the serious “How do you forget about all the haters and stay grounded?”  Austin Mahone even sang to his Hangout participants! 

The result? Thousands of dollars were raised through this component of the Red Kettle Campaign, and hundreds of new young donors were exposed to an incredibly important cause and organization.